The Inner Workshop

Lovely was the Death
Of Him, whose Life was Love! Holy with power
He on the thought-benighted Sceptic beam’d 
Manifest Godhead, melting into day 
What Mists dim-floating of Idolatry
Split and mishap’d the Omnipresent Sire:
And first by TERROR, Mercy’s startling prelude,
Uncharm’d the Spirit spell-bound with earthy lusts
Till of it’s nobler Nature it ‘gan feel
Dim recollections; and thence soar’d to Hope,
Strong to believe whate’er of mystic good
The ETERNAL dooms for his IMMORTAL SONS.   

- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 'Religious Musings'

Much of the creative process is about getting through the chaos to that point of clarity where we act. The space of the desk, of the home, the shared space of life lived with the beloved – but also the inner space where the individual inhabits a kind of workshop of the soul in which we fashion all our strategies and tactics and devices – all this needs tending to, otherwise the creative process can become a cover-up.

Here at RoH we are interested in the creative process as a reflection of the state of that inner workshop, not as a sanitised receptacle of platitudes dressed up as wisdom, but as a place where a genuine enactment of Hephaestian craftsmanship is taking place, and where the mess is every bit a part of the whole as those luminous, evanescent moments of pure vision.

Monthly Roundup

My journey this month has been rich. I have walked in the company of luminaries: the great Seamus Heaney, the titanic William Wordsworth, and the jocular and erudite Walter Starkie, whose several pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela were as much about the wine and song he enjoyed along the way as about the life and times of the saint whose tomb is the destination of this trans-continental trek.

Our home sits on the Konstanz-to-Rapperswil section of the Jacobean Way, and this month we have also spotted our first pilgrims, two young women marching vigorously West with scallop shells stitched to their rucksacks. It was still morning, and we subsequently discovered that a farm up the road offers shelter to Jacobean foot-sloggers, as Starkie fondly calls them. They can’t have been on the road for more than twenty minutes.

...discrete field azure and scallop or
on a fence-post announce centuries 
of patient foot-fall ticking off the miles 
to a distant tomb at world's end, 
Finisterre, a shoreline of broken soles 
and empty shells shriven at last of all 
that is attempted, worn boots pointing West 
to the distant line of convergence
where mystery and meaning meet,
summoning us to our greatest journey...  

Spring sometimes cloaks itself in cloud and misty drizzle, and today was one such day. I celebrated with a walk. From our home up to Hueb, then North along Jacob’s Way to the head of a grassy track below the hamlet of Büel. The track cuts down through grassy orchards, zigzagging across a line of marching electricity pylons that shed a humming cascade of static. The track strikes a stream above the main Jonatal road and leads you down a flight of steps into the middle of another collection of farmhouses.

South along Road 15, direction Wald. Cross the road at Jonatal, cross the Jona River, pass beneath the railway track, then climb steadily via Hirschwil to the summit of Scheidegg, an ascent of 555 metres. The final stretch through the woods lining the base of the summit exposed my loss of form. I need to find my legs again, I told myself as I hauled myself up an ancient stairway of railway sleepers.

From Scheidegg I descended via Josenberg along the Schmittenbrunnen, and arrived in Wald with four minutes to spare before the bus back to Dieterswil departed. The whole circuit took about three-and-a-half hours.

Some impressions:

Meadowsweet, nettle and dandelion nestle in the crook of a clotted root, a bark-stripped, thunder-stricken fir singled out for terrible violence while its cousins flourish all around.

The papery whine of a glider on the Scheidegg is reminiscent at a distance of the maniac clamour of a pig-farm at feeding-time; close up, just below the crest where the flier stands like a warrior-sentinel on the skyline wielding his control-box, it becomes the wail of wind-devils dancing over lakes of ice.

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